Consumer forum directs Ola to pay ₹15,000 compensation to customer after AC in cab did not work for 8-hour trip

The Commission said that it was the duty of the aggregator to provide services as promised, and that they had caused suffering to the complainant without providing air-conditioning for his 8-hour trip.
OlaImage for representative purpose

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Bangalore (Urban) recently directed cab aggregator app Ola to pay ₹15,000 compensation to a customer for deficient service as the air-conditioning in the cab he hired was not working [Vikas Bhusan v. Bhavish Aggarwal].

A bench led by President of the Commission M Shobha stated in its order,

"It is the duty of the OP to provide all services to the customers as per promise made by them. They have made the customer complainant to suffer inconvenience and mental agony during his trip without providing the service of AC for the entire trip period of 08 hours. Therefore, the OP have committed deficiency of service and also unfair trade practice on their part," the order stated.

In October 2021, the complainant with his colleagues hired a cab through the Ola app and chose the 80 kilometres or 8-hour trip option. He claimed that the AC was not functional for the duration of the 8-hour trip.

The complainant noticed that there was no mechanism to redress the grievance during the trip and that cancellation would lead to forfeiture of the booking amount.

He got in touch with customer service the very same day and demanded a refund. However, the company said that as per the rate card, there was no additional charge for AC and, therefore, it could not issue a refund.

The complaint was escalated to the senior management, after the company issued a refund of ₹100 without any discussion with the complainant.

Aggrieved, the complainant registered a complaint via the National Consumer Helpline for deficiency in service. He sought compensation of ₹50,000 and a refund of the booking amount of ₹1,837 with interest.

Ola filed its response to the legal notice sent by the complainant. However, owing to a lapse of 45 days, the Commission rejected it on September 7, 2022.

The Commission recorded that despite sufficient opportunity being provided to the aggregator, it had neither appeared to argue nor had filed written arguments before it.

Thereafter, it recorded that Ola's website and app mention that Ola cabs in the concerned category are equipped with an AC, extra legroom etc.

It ruled that since Ola had refunded ₹100 for deficiency in service, it had accepted that the AC was not working even after collection of entire booking amount.

Stating that it was Ola's duty to provide services as promised, the Commission ruled that the company had served deficiently and hence the complainant was entitled to relief.

Noting the "very unfair behavior" of the cab aggregator, the Commission directed Ola to refund the booking amount with interest at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of the complaint till realization.

It further directed the company to pay ₹10,000 compensation and ₹5,000 in litigation expenses to the complainant.

[Read Order]

Vikas Bhusan Vs Bhavish Aggarwal.pdf
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